Jagan Reddy’s Tirumala visit kicks up a row, protests follow
Andhra CM Jagan Reddy, a protestant Christian by faith, ignored the demands of the Hindu groups and the opposition parties that he should follow the decades-old tradition of signing the declaration form meant for non-Hindus, stating that he has faith in Lord Venkateshwara.Updated: Sep 23, 2020, 22:08 IST
YSR Congress Party president and chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday visited the popular hill shrine of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala in Chittoor district without signing the mandatory declaration proclaiming his faith in the presiding deity, leading to protests from Hindu groups and opposition parties.
The chief minister, who arrived in Tirumala straightaway from New Delhi, was accorded a rousing reception at the temple. He wore traditional attire of a Hindu devotee, sported the “Thiru Namam” (the Vaishnavite style of tilak on the forehead) and carried the silk clothes on his head into the temple to present them to the Lord on behalf of the state government, amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.
However, Jagan, a protestant Christian by faith, ignored the demands of the Hindu groups and the opposition parties, including Bharatiya Janata Party, Telugu Desam Party and the Congress, that he should follow the decades-old tradition of signing the declaration form meant for non-Hindus stating that he has faith in Lord Venkateshwara.
Though Jagan had visited Tirumala several times in the past without signing the mandatory declaration, it kicked up controversy this time following a statement from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams trust board chairman that there was no need for non-Hindus to sign the declaration compulsorily and as such, Jagan didn’t have to sign the same.
The TTD chairman’s statement triggered massive protests from Hindu groups. On Wednesday, activists of Bajrang Dal tried to lay siege to Jagan’s Lotus Pond residence at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad and courted arrests.
A tense atmosphere prevailed in Tirupati, where the police took hundreds of TDP and BJP leaders and activists into preventive custody as they planned to take out protest rallies on the occasion of the chief minister’s visit.
TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu demanded that Jagan should respect the temple traditions and sign the declaration meant for non-Hindus. He also demanded that as per the traditions, Jagan should also be accompanied by his wife Bharati. He accused the Jagan government of hurting the sentiments of Hindus.
Popular seer of Sri Peetham Swamy Paripoornananda told reporters in Hyderabad that Jagan should respect the feelings of the Hindus, as he would not lose anything by signing the declaration.
However, YSRCP leaders rejected the demand of the opposition parties and Hindu groups. State civil supplies minister Kodali Nani questioned the propriety of imposing such a rule in Tirumala. “Only those who have faith in Lord Venkateshwara come to Tirumala temple. Why should anybody declare their faith again?” he asked.
He said the BJP leaders should first advice Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the temples along with his wife. “When Modi can go alone to Ayodhya temple to lay foundation stone, why should Jagan bring his wife to the Tirumala temple?” he asked.
BJP leaders fumed at the minister and demanded that Jagan should immediately sack him from the cabinet. “We should not rest till Kodali Nani is sacked from the cabinet for insulting Modi,” BJP national spokesman and MP GVL Narasimha Rao said.